Abhinandan controversy: Banners, flexes declaring Ayaz Sadiq ‘traitor’ put up in Lahore

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LAHORE: Unidentified persons put up banners declaring PML-N leader and former NA speaker Ayaz Sadiq a traitor in different localities of NA-129 on Saturday, a few days after his controversial remarks about IAF pilot Abhinandan Varthaman’s release

In the flexes, Ayaz Sadiq’s picture was merged with Abhinandan’s. The Indian Air Force (IAF) wing commander was captured after the Pakistan Air Force (PAF) shot down two fighter jets of the IAF on February 27. He was subsequently released by Pakistan as a “peace gesture” towards India.  

The posters taking aim at Sadiq were attributed to “Patriotic People, NA-129”.

Banners put up by Aleem Khan, allege PML-N leaders

PML-N leaders reacted to the development, alleging that the banners were put up by PTI leader and provincial minister Aleem Khan, who lost the election against Ayaz Sadiq in 2018.

Former prime minister Nawaz Sharif’s spokesperson Muhammad Zubair said the government’s attitude was intolerable. Other PML-N leaders took to social media to denounce the move in the strongest words. 

In a veiled warning to the government, PML-N stalwart Khawaja Asif said the party knew where the flexes and banners were made.“You are crossing all limits in a political dispute,” he said.

Meanwhile, PML-N leader Azma Bukhari said the act of distributing “certificates of treason” should be stopped. She said all complainants in the cases of treason had turned out to be notorious criminals.

“Provincial Minister Aleem Khan has done this to avenge his three-time defeat at the hands of Ayaz Sadiq. These banners are only in Ayaz Sadiq’s constituency, which clearly shows that this is Aleem Khan’s mischief,” she claimed, adding that the patriotism of those who insulted Ayaz Sadiq could be gauged from the fact that they had posted pictures of Modi on the streets.

Controversy over Kulbhushan, Abhinandan

Ayaz Sadiq was embroiled in a controversy after he had shared details of a meeting during which the release of Indian pilot Abhinandan had been agreed upon, alleging that the government took the decision under pressure.

“Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi was present in the meeting, which Imran Khan had refused to attend,” Ayaz Sadiq had said. He said it was Shah Mehmood Qureshi who had “begged the opposition to release Abhinandan, otherwise, India would attack Pakistan at 9:00pm”.

“India never attacked Pakistan, but the government nonetheless handed over Abhinandan to Indian authorities,” he had said.

Ayaz Sadiq also said it was not the Opposition, but the PTI government which passed an ordinance to “facilitate” Indian spy Kulbhushan Jadhav.

Separately, PTI’s Ali Muhammad Khan had pointed out that Opposition leader Shahbaz Sharif, PPP Co-Chairman Asif Ali Zardari and JUI-F leaders had been present during the meeting and had supported the release of the Indian pilot.

Capture of Indian pilot Abhinandan

In February 2019, Indian Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman’s MiG-21 plane was shot down by the PAF in an aerial dogfight over Azad Jammu Kashmir.

The aerial battle had almost brought nuclear-armed India and Pakistan to the brink of a new war.

After his capture, the Pakistani military had released a video clip showing him sipping a cup of tea and politely refusing to answer questions.

He was released after a 60-hour detention period as a “peace gesture” from Pakistan aimed at defusing tensions with India.

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